The Seattle Symphony has much to offer in the way of short forays away! Last night’s program was a good example of the variety and depth of music that conductor Ludovic Morlot brings to Seattle and that showcases the strong abilities of the Symphony musicians. Although very different “each piece entails a strong element of virtuosity, of technical challenge and display,” according to the program notes. I agreed. I found it lovely, entertaining and enlightening. Tickets are available for Saturday!
Performing the lovely Strauss’ Don Juan Op. 20. Photo Brandon Patoc.
It was so fun to listen to…the stops, starts and swells of Strauss’ Don Juan Op. 20. They were lovely and lively. The timpani and tinkling triangle added subtle tones to the complex and beautifully waxing and waning musicality of this romantic work. In this piece each part of the orchestra gets to shine singly and then as part of the whole.
Up next was a piece that showcased the technique of both the Symphony and the much lauded and awarded piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman. The softness and subtlety, the lyricism of his playing was well done. The piano and orchestra played off of and to each other in interesting ways. It was intriguing to hear the back and forth, the compliments and contrasts that Beethoven wrote into his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B- flat major, Op. 19. The solo piano encore demanded by the well-pleased audience (Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 2, mvt 2) was a lively, dramatic piece. A nice contrast that showed another side of Bronfman’s talent, technique and style.
“Sinfonia” by Luciano Berio, the first version done in 1968, is a revolutionary piece in part about revolution – the second movement a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the wake of his assassination that same year. It evolved into the form we heard last night with 5 movements by 1970. It was interesting, agitated and discordant with voices that at times sounded like instruments, at times like nothing you have heard before and at other times simply narrated bits and pieces of texts and slogans. With music that popped, screamed and shouted a sort of discordancy this piece is startlingly different. Berio is deemed in the notes as “the major Italian composer of the post-war period.” It is a complicated unusual work combining many snippets of other musical, written works and influences as well as sonic elements for voice. The eight members of the vocal group Room Full of Teeth sounded at times alluring, at times off-putting and added such an original sound on top of, with and sometimes over the symphony. Morlot in his introduction and explanation sums the work up as an important kind of “journey”. And, it is that.
THE FINAL WORD: This performance will be repeated again Saturday evening. If you are looking to enjoy some Strauss, hear a very well, played piano Beethoven concerto by master pianist Bronfman, expand your symphonic knowledge and challenge your notions about what voice, instruments and composition are all about you must get tickets to this interesting musical offering. And, as always, Benaroya Hall is a wonderful venue in which to enjoy music! All seats are good in this house no need to buy the most expensive.
ADDED BONUS: The programs are full of information about each piece, artist and the performers. Including “what to listen for” notes that are so useful to those new to or learning about classical music.
If you arrive early enough to eat (and you must arrive early), The Muse Cafe has lots of interesting offerings at really reasonable prices. $13 for entree, side and salad. There are some interesting small offerings that change often. They have a line and sell out of certain specials so again you must come early. Wine and beer is available. Fancy coffees and treats are not quite the bargains but they are there as well. Getting food and drinks inside the Hall is prohibitive…for a Sessions Lager and a Pellegrino it was $11.
Parking on Second Avenue under Beneroya Hall is $14 but the good news is: the ease and convenience of it. Lots of folks directing traffic, an easy to park in garage and elevators directly to the lobby make it very handy!
And, if not this time…if this does not sound like your cup of tea, there are truly plenty of other great offerings coming up that certainly qualify for great short forays away at the Seattle Symphony! The other classical programs under the competent direction of Morlot will to continue to be interesting. The Seattle Pops series looks like loads of fun. Family programs promise to please!
Family Programs at Beneroya Hall are an inexpensive and great way to introduce your young ones (or yourself in a fun way!) to music and the Seattle Symphony. This schedule for February and March is exciting but even more so for me because it includes Peter and the Wolf, by Prokofiev, the very first Seattle Symphony I attended in fourth grade. In those days fourth grade classes were treated to an introductory Seattle Symphony experience. To this day, I remember clearly the introduction of each character and the particular instrument that represents them in this tale set to symphony music:
- Bird: flute.
- Cat: clarinet.
- Duck: oboe.
- Grandfather: bassoon.
- Hunters: woodwind and trumpet theme, with gunshots on timpani and bass drum.
- Peter: string instruments (including violin, viola, cello, and bass)
- Wolf: French horns.
I loved the whole idea of it! I fell in love with the bassoon! Meet you there to hear this magical piece. I am asking for a ticket for my birthday! And, bring a child or two along (from nine to ninety-nine!). The tickets are $15 for children and seniors and $20 for adults. There are pre-concert activates as well!
This from You You Xia, Public Relations Manager, for the Seattle Symphony:
“The Seattle Symphony offers a fun array of programs for families with children of all ages in February and March. Highlights include the energized Jumpin’ Jazz Time, a move-along, sing-along series; four free Community and Side-by-Side Concerts at Chief Sealth International High School, Benaroya Hall, City Hall and Roosevelt High School; and the timeless tale of Peter and the Wolf (March 12) on the KING FM Family Concerts series, to inspire imaginations of all ages.
The Seattle Symphony’s Family Connections program is an initiative to making symphony experiences more available to families. The program provides up to two free tickets for young people ages 8–18 with the purchase of an adult ticket to many of the Delta Air Line Masterworks, Seattle Pops and Untuxed series performances. Families can take advantage of this program by visiting seattlesymphony.org/concerttickets/special-offers/family-connections
Pay-What-You-Can Fridays (all ages)
Friday, February 12, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Soundbridge at Benaroya Hall
$10 suggested donation
CLASSICAL KING FM FAMILY CONCERTS
Peter and the Wolf
Saturday, March 12, at 11 a.m.
Ruth Reinhardt, conductor
Really Inventive Stuff
COPLAND: Hoe Down
COPLAND: Waltz from Billy the Kid
KOMITAS: Armenian Folksongs: Dance from Vagharshapat
There’s no better introduction for a child to the instruments of the symphony than Prokofiev’s timeless tale of boy versus wolf. This production, by Really Inventive Stuff, features a vaudeville inspired performance guaranteed to engage and inspire imaginations of all ages.
See you at the Symphony!